Exclusive interview: Tom Zé, the musician from Brazil, in The Man From UNCLE Soundtrack

Tom Zé is the composer of the first song
featured in The Man From UNCLE Soundtrack. 
And he didn't even know the very existence of the movie.

When you watch The Man From UNCLE first trailer or access its official website, you most certainly will hear one weird song. The tune is called "Jimmy, Renda-se" ("Jimmy, Surrender") and was released in 1970. The voice belongs to Tom Zé, 76, a musician born in a small town in the state of Bahia, in Brazil. But Tom lives for a long time in Brazilian largest metropolis, São Paulo. He became internationally known in the 1990s through the hands of David Byrne (from Talking Heads) 

In this exclusive interview, Tom Zé talked by phone to Dagomir Marquezi, this blog editor. Tom stated that he liked the TV series in the 1960's. But had no idea that it had been adapted for film. Much less that one of his songs was included in the soundtrack of the movie directed by Guy Ritchie.

How did your song ended up on the soundtrack of The Man From UNCLE?
This song, “Jimmy, Renda-se” had a confusing path. I had some doubts about the final result, sometimes I wanted it changed. But I left as it was made. The recording was being played here and there and covered in several countries. But now you're telling me that inclusion on the soundtrack, I did not know. I don’t even know if my publisher knows that.

Did you liked the Man From UNCLE TV series ?
I liked it. It was a more sophisticated stuff. At that time the spy movies were a mess. The spies changed positions, you never knew which side they were. The audience just got lost. Who was the creator of the UNCLE series?

It was an American producer named Sam Rolfe.
This Rolfe had a requirement that the script had a certain respect for logic. Spy movies usually disrespect this logic and the viewer get lost! We don’t know who to root for.

Looks like you knew UNCLE series very well.
I liked the idea that they fished from Alfred Hitchcock to take an ordinary person and place him in the hell of an international intrigue.

In the series, who you liked more, Napoleon Solo or Illya Kuryakin?
Of course every man was a little jealous of David McCallum (in the role of Illya) because we knew that the girls liked him! The pair was friendly. Robert Vaughn (Napoleon Solo) didn’t had the looks of a man that was part of a spy agency!

Did you know that Ian Fleming was the first creator of The Man From UNCLE?
I did. Fleming opened a new style of violence with James Bond. The American film was kind, delicate, except when filming the dramas of the great playwriters. Even in a cowboy movie shooting and death seemed asport, like a goal in a football game. It was like a chess pawn that was hit and fell. Fleming early in the series of James Bond films inaugurated a certain cruelty on the screen that made ​​me suffer a bit. I felt a certain distaste for this new kind of violence that would later become usual.

What about the Guy Ritchie’s film version of The Man From UNCLE? What do you think about it?
Oh, so they are filming a new version? Is that what you're telling me? When will be released?

In August.
And my music is in this new version?

Exactly, it's the music that plays on the official website of the film and in its first trailer. "Jimmy, Surrender" has a guitar riff that seems inspired by the James Bond theme. Was it deliberate?
No, I had only that inspiration ... (hums the riff). Now, it’s not for me to know what each person imagines when they heard it. I thought “Jimmy, Surrender” was a weak theme.

Now the world is listening to your theme!
(Laughs out loud).

You can hear the original track here:


  1. que demais. Tom Zé é um gênio !!!

  2. Very cool--I love this track from U.N.C.L.E album! Hope you are still getting royalties.


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